Law School Launches Low Income Taxpayer Clinic; New Clinic Among 18 Professional Practice Opportunities

Washington University School of Law has added a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic to its 17 other experiential learning opportunities offered through the school’s award-winning Clinical Education Program. The new clinic will allow students to work with clinic faculty and staff on tax-related legal issues for low income clients. It is funded in part by a grant from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

“The law school has always placed a high value on both professional development and service to the community,” says Daniel Keating, dean and the Tyrrell Williams Professor of Law. “The timing of the new clinic could not be better, as funding of government agencies that provide legal services to low income people has shrunk in recent years. We are excited about this opportunity not only to help our students develop legal and advocacy skills, but also to provide valuable tax assistance to those who otherwise could not afford it.”

Students will assist taxpayers in disputes with the IRS, including possible appearances before the United States Tax Court. As they work through cases, clinic students will fine-tune their skills in legal analysis and reasoning, factual investigation, client interviewing and counseling, oral and written communication, negotiation and litigation, and ethical dilemma resolution.

Two adjunct faculty members, Steven LaBounty and Sarah Narkiewicz, JD ’97, have been named co-directors for the new clinic. LaBounty has more than 30 years of experience with the IRS in the Office of Chief Counsel, from which he recently retired, and eight years of experience as an adjunct professor in the law school’s Graduate Program in Taxation. Prior to law school, Narkiewicz worked as a tax consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She was then a tax attorney at Husch Blackwell LLP and The Stolar Partnership. She has been a lecturer in law and an advisor in the law school’s Graduate Program in Taxation since 2004.

Bob Kuehn, associate dean for clinical education, professor of law, and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic, explains, “We look forward to partnering with the IRS to provide our students with yet another experiential learning opportunity that builds upon our proven tax, business, and regulatory curriculum. The new clinic meets a growing demand for our students to receive professional transactional experience while meeting a vital community need.”

With the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, the law school now has 18 law clinics and externships in areas ranging from environmental law to juvenile justice to entrepreneurship and intellectual property. The Clinical Education Program gives students opportunities to learn professional skills and values by working directly with clients, attorneys, judges, and legislators. The law school guarantees every interested JD student at least one law clinic or externship experience during his or her second or third year of law school.